Sep 30 2010

The humble crumble

crumble photoIt’s apple season and that means apples, apples, every which way. One of the best ways I can think of is crumble and I’ve posted my simple, not fancy, crumble recipe over at Simple Good and Tasty. Check it out, babies. It’s a keeper!

Sep 29 2010


the only thing to do is sit on the steps and cry, offering up your sorrows to the dark and patient trees.

Sep 24 2010

Janelle Monae, indeed!

There’s always the danger, with high expectations, of being disappointed. But Janelle Monae couldn’t disappoint if she tried. She could come on stage in a robe and slippers, sit in a bean bag chair and eat cereal and still be riveting. She’s a superstar. She’s adorable. She’s poised for take off and if she doesn’t, well, shame Janelle_Monaeon us. She completely defies classification, wearing the label of black female artist lightly, swinging it around and playing with it like she did the matador cape she rocked last night. (Seriously, it takes some major panache to pull off a matador cape (and a pompadour and saddle shoes, for that matter), but boy does she!) Her voice is gorgeous and facile, a voice to rival any diva’s, but what puts her over the top for me is her dancing. These are some bold words, but I’m going to say them: She’s an amazing dancer, as good as Michael Jackson. No joke. Sexy, androgynous, irrepressible, she soft shoes and shakes it like nobody’s business. Watch out for her. Seriously, watch out.

Check her out with Big Boi in this vid. Love love love.YouTube Preview Image

Sep 23 2010

Arcade Fire On Fire

arcade-fire-launch-tour-at-roy-wilkins.5388112.87 photo by Stacy Schwartz

Last night Dash and I went to see Arcade Fire with Lady Tabouli and Mr. Lady Tabouli and again, at the risk of sounding like an undiscerning gusher (don’t I always do this when I see live music? I know I do), they knocked our socks off! In fact, not only did our eight collective socks get knocked off, they got blown out of the auditorium, down the corridors, out the door and are dangling from high wires outside of Roy Wilkins. Socks fully and completely knocked off. We are sockless. As often happens, a couple factors coalesced to make the show one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life, not the least of which is simply: this band rocks. For real.

I had just finished reading The Road earlier in the afternoon, although the word afternoon seems like a fake cheery cardboard cut-out word for what it really was: dark, sad hours wrapped around the last eighth of a book that left me sobbing, empty, tired. The Road is a post-apocalyptic novel about a father and son’s journey at at time when the world as we know it and all that we recognize as goodness, humanity and hope has been burned, raped, pillaged and left to blow about in a wasteland of gray ash. The book is devastating and beautiful and it stays with you, seeping deep into your skin, changing the color, the taste, the smell of everything around you. Like that ash. It’s incredible. And awful.

So, fast forward thru a cold water splash on the face, dinner and smooches for the kids, a cup of steaming green tea, a chatty minivan ride with our pals, burgers and cocktails, a hilarious three block dash through the rain until finally we bust onto the spectacle that was Arcade Fire. Keep in mind, I’m still wiggy from The Road – I’ve got it weighing on my chest through the giggling and leaping over puddles, and then all of a sudden, my jaw drops and all I see is this huge band (8 of them!) with this HUGE sound, and all I can think is: Perfection. It’s fucking perfection.

We are swallowed up whole.

They look like Mad Max meets thrift store meets Project Runway. Survivors and journeymen, championing beauty with powerful music and haphazard sartorial flourishes. Glittery dresses and combat boots, navy gas station jumpsuits bedazzled with red lightening, tight button down shirts that read as military rock-a-billy, savagely shorn hair and sweat. Sweat every where. Five men and three women going nuts, letting their freak flags fly, holding nothing back and giving us the FULL DRAMA.

They sound like nothing I have ever heard before, singing in strangely uplifting harmonies and running around changing instruments between songs like its musical chairs. Two of the women play electric violins and look like wild fairies as they work their bows and voices into a frenzy. And not for nothing, who gets to sing AND play violin at the same time? Is that even allowed? They were screaming! All of them were. The third woman, Regine Chassagne, a Haitian beauty, was like an angel in a sparkly gold dress and jeweled fingerless gloves singing in her haunting, gorgeously imperfect voice one minute, then wailing on drums, on piano, and killing an accordion the next. The lead singer, Win Butler, sings himself raw, lurching, kicking, climbing and clamboring all over the stage. But what a voice, a voice kind of like Bono’s, a voice that by its limits, by its humanity and earnestness grabs you by the throat and forces you to open your mouth and contribute.

It sounds freaky and it WAS, but make no mistake. These guys are a big stadium rock band. Their songs are anthemic, swelling and crashing like giant waves. Arcade Fire makes you sing and scream and clap your hands. They give you the blood sweat and tears, the blood guts and glory, but it’s smart, breathtakingly technical, complicated, textured and completely modern music. Post modern even. Beyond that, maybe even, dare I say it? Post-apocalyptic! Nah, that’s just me and my Road-tinted glasses, but, man, if there was ever a right band at the right time. For me. My God. There’s a piercing frantic joy that sort of cuts out of these dark and moody chords in their music and it felt so right. Just right. (For real information, like the playlist and an actual musical analysis, go here.)

And speaking of modern, Janelle Monae at First Ave. tonight. Finally!!!! I may swoon, my head may explode. I’m so excited to see her. I have been waiting a long time. A long long time. More gushing tomorrow, I’m sure.

Sep 21 2010

Of Thugs, Chestnuts and Turds

This morning when I opened the lap top after the kids had gone to school, their last google query popped up. It said: is t.i. in jail again? In case you were wondering, not that you were wondering, the answer is yes. Yes he is.

And to my children, with your plaintive little google search and Cindy Lou Who eyes: best you figure it out now, T. I. images-1is a thug. You can like him, you can like his music, but he’s a thug. Come to think of it, I think we need to talk about jail too, because all jails are not like the one we saw on the side of the road in Wisconsin when we went hiking. That jail looked kinda nice, right? All those prisoners sort of milling around, enjoying the sunshine in comfy chambray shirts – it almost looked like a picnic for carpenters or something. That’s not what jails are like. Not at all.

Sometimes I think raising kids is all about minor corrections in misperceptions. But I’m definitely guilty of being an over-corrector. I think there is some benefit to letting them muddle about in confusion to a certain degree. They don’t need every little thing explained to them, do they? Maybe, in some cases, we just let them figure it out. Maybe going to jail twice speaks for itself.

And a chestnut on the sidewalk? Sometimes that speaks for itself too. There is nothing – no acorn, no sock, no stuffed animal, no rock, no Barbie – that can remain in St. James’ path without him having to kick it. And kick it again and then try to dribble it. I don’t even think he realizes he’s doing it. The other day he was kicking my brand new t-shirt with the tags on across the floor of my bedroom.  When I yelled at him to stop he looked surprised – like I had interrupted him while he was shredding thru Real Madrid’s defense. On Sunday he kicked a dog turd that was lurking on the sidewalk and got it all over the front of his new indoor soccer shoes. As he dragged his toe on the grass to clean it off he sheepishly admitted he had kicked it on purpose. Nasty? Check. Hilarious? Check. Lesson? Check. Now he knows that just because it walks like a chestnut and talks like a chestnut, doesn’t mean it is a chestnut. You just can’t kick everything in your path. But damn, over-corrector or not, had I seen that chestnut, I never would have let him kick that chestnut.

Sep 18 2010

Rear View Mirror Vérité

shoesSo I’m driving Devil Baby home from preschool and she says: Oh… My… God… Mom. We got popsicles for Reed Sprinkle’s birthday and it was, like, sooooooo amazing. For whatever reason, I lowered the rear view mirror to catch a glimpse. Maybe because she sounded so old and tweeny, to settle the incongruence between the voice and the face. Or maybe because she was amusing me. Or maybe it was that Reed Sprinkle that caught me. Reed Sprinkle? Whatever the case, without thinking, I lowered the mirror and there we were – framed together in a small telling rectangle. Belied by her words, her face is still the face of a baby – creamy round cheeks and shining eyes. I, on the other hand, well, not so much.

It’s odd to catch a glimpse of yourself live, especially next to the poster child for youth. There is something unsettling about seeing yourself when you’re not looking at yourself – like those video cameras in stores that you don’t know about until you see yourself, shockingly haggard, on a grainy monitor. But these surprise sidelong glimpses must represent the truth, no? At least more of a truth than when you actually look in the mirror, sending alarm bells to your unconscious which mercifully calls forth teams of tiny men in pastel leotards with “denial“ calligraphied across their taught rumps to leap about our minds unfurling long bolts of gauzy sheer fabric to soften the blow and shroud the truth. Right? Am I right?

Reality bites. But what was I supposed to do? Keep staring at myself in scared awe, rear-ending the car in front of me, essentially pulling a Narcissus, modern minivan mommy style? No, I smacked that shit shut. And I turned my attention back to Devil Baby, because what can be more important than a little girl talking like a big girl and the road unfurling before us both?

Sep 16 2010

Ama – proof positive we should never be bored.

1 Ama Bluff-gazingNot when there are things like this in the world to learn about. I never knew about Ama, or women of the sea. A 2000 year old tradition in coastal Japan, these beautiful hardy women would dive up to 25 meters with no equipment in search of seaweed, abalone, snails and other shellfish.

4.0 Ama Divers Sea GazingThey had to maintain a certain amount of body fat to survive the frigid waters and would huddle together around bonfires to warm up between dives, eat and gossip. It was treacherous work, but Ama could make more money in a short 20 day season than a man could in a whole year. Plus, they got to hang out with their lady friends all day long. Ama were a hot commodity and sought after for marriage. They continued to dive deep into old age.

Iwase Last AmaWhen goggles were invented at the turn of the century, Ama were early adopters, but mostly continued to dive only in shorts and cloths wrapped around their hair. There weren’t really any men around and diving in their skivvies afforded them more freedom and actually kept them warmer. Remember, they didn’t have lycra back then.

4 Sandy FrontsI’m struck by how strong and happy these women look. How free. Especially at a time when women the world over were still fighting to be heard (and are still). These gorgeous photos are the work of Iwase Yoshiyuki, who wrote of his beautiful subjects: “They carried the joys and sorrows of those living with the sea . . . I immersed myself in their world.”


Iwase084STUH. NING.

Sep 16 2010

Tomato Love

tomatoesoutI have another article over at SGT – about tomatoes. Yes, I know. AGAIN. This time I’m talkin’ slow roasting in giant batches for freezing. Do it. You’ll thank me. For real.

Sep 15 2010

Girl Power: Part ll

lououI’m not sure when it happened or how it happened, but we have become a soccer family. We started out doing the sweet recreational soccer teams at the parks with Saint James when he was four, one thing led to another, the boy fell hard for the game, and we followed him over the abyss like a family of lemmings. Until now, it’s been all about Saint James. Supergirl also went through the parks’ soccer programs and we tried our best never to let on that her games were in any way less important or fun to watch as Saint James’, when truth be told, they were. As the Minneapolis United boys’ legs grew long and strong, as their feet got as quick and nimble as fingers, their games have gotten to be really really cool to watch – nail biting, heart wrenching, and beautiful. Her games were cute and itty bitty in contrast. We scarcely noticed how good she was.

Supergirl came out of the gate knowing what to do. Where Saint James’ first couple seasons had Dash and I shrugging our shoulders and painfully joking to each other that maybe sports weren’t going to be his thing, what with all the break dancing and donkey kicks he was doing out on the field, Supergirl was focused, aggressive and coordinated. Sure she had spent countless hours on the sidelines, arguably picking up the rules of the game, the point of the game, but she never appeared to be paying attention. She was always in a tree or running around with other younger dragged-along siblings.

This year we asked her if she wanted to try out for Minneapolis United. She would be playing up by a year, but since Saint James did it, we figured she should have the chance. She thought about it for days and days. Playing MU, assuming she made a team, would mean saying goodbye to playing with her guy friends on the park team. It would mean more practices, winter training – just more soccer. I got the sense that she was hesitant to try-out because she didn’t want to commit to all it entailed. There was also a little bit of fear – fear that she wouldn’t make it at all.

Consistent with her ability to surprise us at every turn, she made the top team and her fate was sealed. She was proud. And she was playing MU. I watched her first game on Sunday, and I don’t know if it was the fact that I was alone (Dash and Devil Baby were at Saint James’ game across town), the fact that it was a spectacularly gorgeous day, or the fact that I was feeling a wee bit fuzzy around the brainy bits after a late night, but I felt about ready to weep at the sight of these girls going at it as hard as they were. We played Plymouth, who were all giant blonds with matching head bands and backpacks perfectly lined up along the sidelines like menacing black tombstones. We got creamed. But our girls played with so much heart and sweetness and toughness that I could scarcely contain myself.

Girls bring such a different energy to their sports. They hesitate just a titch too long if someone takes a tumble. They say sorry after collisions. They talk to their parents on the sidelines if the play brings them close. But make no mistake, they are no less intense. No less fierce, no less swift, graceful and powerful. It’s just different and as much as I adore watching Saint James’ team play, I am beside myself about these girls. Go girls! Go!!!

This is my kind, my ken, my kin.

And I cannot wait – I simply cannot wait – to see where this goes for my Supergirl.

Sep 14 2010

Best Last Chance

lakecloselakethreelakeshoreOr maybe it should be Last Best Chance. Regardless, I’m obsessed with summer’s passing and all the “lasts” that it entails. Maybe because autumn has come upon us so quickly and quietly, like the whisper of a turning page. Yesterday I was biking around the lakes and it occurred to me that I should take the kids for one last plunge. The thought naggled me throughout the day, but truth be told, I didn’t really feel like putting on a suit and going for a swim. At all. But the thing about a last chance, is that it’s just that. Hesitate, procrastinate and you’ve missed it. So I said to my kids: will you guys do something nutty with me? Arguably six o’clock in the evening when it’s 67 degrees out is not optimal swimming time, but in a few months this lake will be a white block of ice and it will be 70 degrees colder. And when it is, I’ll remember floating on my back with the waning sun in my eyes on a beautiful September night.

What are your “lasts” for the season? Do them. Do them all.

Sep 13 2010

When your kid jacks your phone.

Truth be told, I kinda sorta LOVE the first one. I may blow it up and hang it in the living room.

Sep 13 2010

Girl Power

I hadn’t thought about my relationship to organized sports for decades until a couple years ago when I dropped Saint James off at his first winter training session. As he trotted off to join his team, I spotted a group of girls, maybe 16 years old, warming up. Some were 2 stretching, some were casually kicking balls back and forth. I wanted to watch Saint James, but my eyes kept straying to the girls, to their strong legs, their glossy hair tied up in all manner of ways. They were so loose in their bodies, so completely unaware of themselves. They were without guile, without self consciousness or worries. They were, in a word, happy. I know it sounds preposterous, but I know a happy girl when I see one. A few of them started to bust out a couple dance moves and then collapsed on each other laughing and my heart just about broke. That was me. That was my youth. That was the last time I felt like I really truly could do anything. I stood at the sidelines, my eyes darting between the tiny boys and the big girls, trying my hardest not to look like a perv, but I couldn’t drag myself away.

I realized something then that I didn’t know when I was a girl: that girls need sports more than boys. Boys will get their sports, no matter what. If there is a ball, any ball, they will pick it up, hold it in their palms. They will dribble it, kick it, balance it on their feet or index finger. If it’s tiny and bouncy they will zing it against the nearest wall and see what happens, inadvertently figuring out the physics of force and angles. They will run and jump, finding the best and fastest way to move their bodies through space. They will compete, keep score, triumph, spit on the ground in disgust. They will woop and puff their chests out. Their cheeks will burn with shame and they will have no choice but to prove themselves all over again. All manner of life lessons will be learned, just because boys and the lives we lead, are hardwired a certain way. On the other hand, but for the rare exception, girls don’t go nuts for hoops and nets, sticks, pucks and balls. It doesn’t take long for them to come away from the games on the blacktop and cluster in groups, wrapping themselves in words. They start to pay attention to pop culture and how they look. They start to sing, make up dances, read, jump rope and gossip. Without organized sports – the teams, the practices, the schedules – girls would move on to other things and lost would be the pounding hearts and throbbing lungs, the sisterhood and that feeling of total power: power over your body and the way you can and can choose to move it through the world.

I love girls’ athletics. As someone of the post Title IX era, I got to take sports for granted, I never had to fight for the right to play. Anything I wanted was available to me through my schools and I had the luxury of saying yes or no. But mostly I said yes. I played tennis, volleyball and lacrosse in high school and some of my best friends, my best memories are tied to being on those teams. In many ways, who I am and what I’ve done may stem from those years of competitive sports, and I wasn’t even that good. Here is an interesting article from the NY Times on this. Last year, when I wrote about hurting my knee in high school, I wrote about the feeling of invincibility that is borne of youth sports and I cannot think of a better reason for girls to play (or dance, or ski, or figure skate for that matter). Yes, it’s good for their health. Yes, it keeps them out of trouble. Yes, it looks good on college applications. But it’s the sisterhood of strength that makes it so damn worthwhile. When a girl competes, she’s not thinking about how her body looks, what her body can’t do. The mind/body connection is severed, for a bit, so that a girl can fly, fly away from self doubt, from glossy magazine photos and impossible standards, and just fly.

Sep 12 2010

Doctor Dash speaks his truth.

“I just can’t dance in another man’s garage.”

Sep 10 2010

Another Panzanella Salad

saladto help us grab on to a little more summer with our grubby little hands. Check it out at Simple Good and Tasty. It’s a yummy one and best of all, my editor didn’t nix the part about the wet t-shirt contest! Score!

Sep 8 2010

Oh, sweet Devil Baby

I buy her a pair of gray skinny jeans, just like mine, just because. Because I’m missing her, yes, actually missing her, these first long days of school. Because of the two, this is the one who will be my shopping buddy, who will bring me my sizes, who will give me her honest opinion when she’s 10, 15, 22 and 40.

As I slip her new jeans up her suddenly, impossibly long legs, she puts her hands on her hips, her weight on one foot, the other toe pointing out, knocks her head to the side and and asks: Mama, are people who wear jeans, jeaniuses?

If only, DB. If only.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...